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Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

Utah QB Travis Wilson's whole mindset changed after being given 2nd opportunity to play

By Dirk Facer, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Aug. 6 12:43 p.m. MDT

 Travis Wilson looks to pass during University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.

Travis Wilson looks to pass during University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has approached his return like a “second opportunity.” His future was in doubt after an intracranial artery injury was detected following a concussion against Arizona State last November. He missed the final three games of 2013 and didn’t receive full medical clearance to resume playing until June 24.

“Once I got that final word that I was cleared my whole mindset changed,” Wilson said. “It was all about getting back into football and getting back into shape and just being blessed that I could play football again.”

Wilson entered camp No. 1 on the depth chart, with Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson occupying the No. 2 spot.

“Interesting battle. Travis is looking really good. Kendal is making some plays,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after Tuesday’s practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium. “The other guys that are getting their reps are making the most of them — Brandon Cox, Conner Manning, (Adam) Schulz.”

Right now, though, Whittingham noted that it’s Wilson and Thompson battling it out, with Wilson still holding the top spot.

SECOND DAY: Whittingham liked the tempo Tuesday.

“It’s still a little bit off of where it ultimately needs to get, but it’s far better than it was at any point in spring ball,” said Whittingham, who added that he’s pleased with the execution, thus far. “We’re making very few mistakes, very few dropped balls. There’s always room for improvement — but so far, two days in, (it’s) very good.”

BOLSTERED INTERIOR: Utah’s health and depth at defensive tackle is good according to Whittingham. He noted that true freshman Lowell Lotulelei has “added a ton to that position.” Other positives include the return of sophomore Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, junior Seni Fauonuku and sophomore Sam Tevi.

“There’s four or five guys that we’ve got back healthy now, or that are new to the program, that have really bolstered that position,” Whittingham said. “That should be, as always, a position of strength for us. It’s been a strong suit for us for eight or 10 years now.”

EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said the Utes have eight or nine offensive linemen who are ready to play and help out this season. He also said there are another three or four coming up through the system with a lot of potential. ... The team will vote on what version of the school fight song to use this season at a meeting Wednesday or Thursday night. Whittingham’s guess after talking with some of the guys is that they’ll stick with the original words and not the recently revamped edition. ... Senior receiver Kaelin Clay is the early front-runner to return kickoffs and punts.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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Dirk Facer
Aug. 5, 2014
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1. gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah,
Aug. 6, 2014

I think Kendall Thompson is listed #2 on the depth chart because Utah is going to use him as a situational QB with a package to run 5 to 10 times a game. Overall though, I think Conner Manning is better equipped to takeover as the QB if Wilson gets hurt. I don't know if the coaches see it that way. Thompson is the big name as an Oklahoma transfer but I don't think he has the full skill set to be a full time starter at QB in the PAC 12. He's got a hitch in his throwing motion. It produces the wobble duck. Sure he is a strong athlete and a option package might be his thing.

2. Naval Vet
Philadelphia, PA,
Aug. 6, 2014

"The team will vote on what version of the school fight song to use this season at a meeting Wednesday or Thursday night."

This seems like an awfully trivial matter to be concerned with for a team that was just one OT game away from the postseason in each of these past two seasons. Hopefully, the team gets past this "conundrum" and quickly retains their focus on what is important.

GO UTES!!!

3. Clinton Ute
Clinton , UT,
Aug. 6, 2014

@gdog

Totally agree with you on KT, I think he will be great in the red zone packages or certain situational plays. I personally hope that Brandon Cox passes Manning up in the QB standings. I think (more like I hope haha) that he could end up being something real special in the future. I have only gotten to see him throw with my own eyes once in spring ball and besides an unlucky tipped ball that turned into an interception I thought he looked awesome. But some of the scouting videos of him on the internet throwing the long ball are amazing. Again just my opinion, I think that Manning is an awesome QB too and think when you throw Isom in there these QB battles are going to be an every season occurance for quite a few years!

22 more days!

GO UTES!!!

4. Naval Vet
Philadelphia, PA,
Aug. 6, 2014

gdog3finally:

I think KT would be a fine starter at QB, but I just don't think 6-1/199 is a good size for a dual-threat QB. At 6-1/199 that makes him slightly smaller than...

...Jordan Wynn his final season at Utah.

And how did THAT work out for us? Didn't he last only 1.5 games before being knocked out for the season.

Chuckie Keeton is about the same size as KT, and is without a doubt, another fantastic dual-threat QB. But...look at how much time HE lasts on the field. Injuries cost him 5 games in 2011, and 8 in 2013 -- for an average of 4 lost games/season. And he plays in a smaller league.

I think if KT winds up starting...it won't be long before Wilson/Manning see the field. Wilson would most likely be the most durable, and Manning, as a pro-style QB, isn't likely to be taking as many hits as the other 2 ahead of him.

GO UTES!!!

5. BigCougar
Bountiful, UT,
Aug. 6, 2014

“Interesting battle. Travis is looking really good. Kendal is making some plays,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after Tuesday’s practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium. “The other guys that are getting their reps are making the most of them — Brandon Cox, Conner Manning, (Adam) Schulz.”

----------

I think Kyle has learned his lesson about over-hyping his QB situation and is avoiding the whole "our QB situation is in the upper echelon of Pac12 QB's" baloney.

KT was mired down in the depth chart at Oklahoma and not seeing the field (64 yds passing for his career) and was getting leap-frogged by younger players for playing time, yet at Utah he's competing for a starting job and possibly could unseat the incumbent.

That illustrates a pretty poignant fact, meanwhile nearly every other team in the Pac12 has a QB at their helm with NFL potential.

Your best bet is to hope Wilson returns to form, gets in shape, stays healthy and stops being an interception machine.